Fulham 2 Everton 1
Fulham made a solid comeback to turn this match around in the second half after going into the break a goal down.
As announced by Roy Hodgson, in his pre-match interview, Andrew Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy were all declared fit to start. Sadly, Mark Schwarzer wasn`t considered fit enough after picking up an injury whilst on international duty and David Stockdale, ahead of Pascal Zuberbuhler, was chosen to deputise. Also on the bench, after being out with a foot injury since April, was Simon Davies.
After two poor performances those inside Craven Cottage were hoping that Fulham would be able to shake off the apparent malaise that has been a feature of those aforementioned games. But, in a poor first half that wasn`t to be the case.
Fulham looked lacklustre and off the pace and Everton didn`t look much better. In fact chances were rare with Clint Dempsey looking like the only Fulham player able to break the deadlock. The American fired over from twenty-five yards in the 14th minute, headed a Pantsil cross wide in the 18th minute, headed a Duff cross across goal in the 31st minute, and then saw a shot saved by Howard seconds later.
But our inability to get that breakthrough cost us dear with thirty two minutes on the clock. Danny Murphy was cautioned for a foul out wide and when Baines delivered a great ball it was the Australian, Tim Cahill, who rose above the home defence to power a header past Stockdale.
Trailing at half time Fulham emerged for the second half looking like a different side, probably after some harsh words from Roy Hodgson. Two minutes into the half Andrew Johnson saw a low shot saved before the 53rd minute saw a frantic burst of action finally result in Fulham equalising. The action started with a corner that was cleared and then continued with a Duff shot that went wide before Pantsil was felled on the edge of the area.
Murphy saw his free kick hit the wall and it rebounded into the path of Paul Konchesky who rifled a shot goal wards only for the unfortunate Distin to deflect it past Howard. Everton were then rocked by the loss of Phil Neville who was taken away on a stretcher after a clash with Dickson Etuhu in a combative midfield.
Fulham continued to push forward and Pantsil saw a low shot saved before, with seventy-eight minutes played, they took the lead. Pushing quickly forward Johnson pulled his marker out wide and when the ball was fed to Duff he cut inside to power a left footed shot past Howard for his first goal for the club.
But as the ninety minute mark approached Fulham rode their luck. A corner from Baines was met by the head of the Everton substitute Fellaini but Stockdale kept the header out only for it to fall invitingly for Joseph Yobo. Thankfully the defender fluffed the opportunity and the chance to equalise was gone.
With five minutes of stoppage time declared Fulham could have had a third. Howard raced foolishly out of his goal but Demspey took too much time to size the chance up and his shot was cleared in front of the goal.
Next up is a trip to play CSKA Sofia, let`s hope it`s the Fulham side who turned up for the second half who show up on foreign soil!